Via Licensing, the group that manages patent pools for the tru2way cable standard and the Near Field Communications radio standard, yesterday issued a call for all patents related to the Long Term Evolution 4G wireless standard — the second such attempt to create an LTE patent pool. The creation of some sort of universal licensing scheme for LTE could theoretically lower the costs associated with building LTE-enabled devices and the network itself. However, the primary benefit would be in offering companies who license the pool of LTE patents a way to avoid the hassle of dealing with several parties.
However, Via can’t force patent holders to play, and without a majority of solid patents with which to negotiate, its attempts will fail. There’s little reason for a larger company to join a patent pool, unless it wants to help push through a standard, which isn’t the case with LTE (for the skinny on patent pools, check out this article I wrote back in 2007).
Generally, the cost of intellectual property associated with cell phone radio standards has been far higher than devices based on open standards such as Wi-Fi or WiMAX. That means that devices with cellular radios have been more expensive, as have the network equipment costs. I doubt industry players — including Qualcomm, which own LTE patents — are going to be eager to reduce their potential royalty income in exchange for letting Via manage the licensing process. Especially since folks at many of these firms already have the staff and knowledge to handle cross-licensing agreements.